A video showing a group of Metropolitan Police Department officers being cheered by customers at Harry’s Restaurant went viral on Wednesday after President Donald Trump retweeted it to his 87 million followers.
As of Wednesday night, the video had been seen over 600,000 times after it was posted by conservative author and podcaster David J. Harris Jr.
In the video, customers could be heard chanting “Back the blue” and clapping for the police as the officers fist-bumped at least two men standing at the bar inside. The video was shot on National Night Out, a nationwide effort to promote police-community partnerships.
Many Twitter comments for the post showed support for the officers, with some thanking them for their service.
“Amen and that’s how it should be!” wrote one user.
“Good job!” and “just (a) wonderful showing of respect for our law enforcement” wrote others.
However, the viral video also attracted some criticism.
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At Harry’s in DC, 1 block from Trump Hotel.
This is how everyone responded to the police walking in! pic.twitter.com/rA1PVghnIo
— David J Harris Jr (@DavidJHarrisJr) October 6, 2020
Some viewers noticed how crowded the bar was, with many customers seen not wearing masks and others standing at the bar.
On Wednesday, the DC Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) confirmed that an investigation was opened looking into the matter.
Under Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Phase 2 Mayoral Order reopening rules, all guests inside of alcohol establishments must be seated. The order also explicitly states that “no standing at bars is allowed.”
While the lack of masks drew criticism, the order also states that guests should wear masks at all times except when eating or drinking.
Raman Santra, a lawyer who also runs the Barred in DC nightlife blog, said Harry’s Restaurant has become a popular tourist spot while also attracting more conservative customers in recent years.
“It had a reputation for tourists because it’s in a hotel,” he said. “Obviously, it’s developed a different type of reputation the last three or four years as a hotspot for people and tourists and fans of the president because it’s a block from Trump Hotel.”
Santra tracks violations reported by ABRA but said penalizing Harry’s may be tough.
“It’s really difficult for them to impose any fines or punishment just based on the video Itself,” he said. “There were issues spotted in the bar that are clearly not applied with ABRA rules and the mayor’s rules.”
In particular, Santra said the customers seen at the bar presented an issue.
He added that police likely faced some criticism for appearing to allow the potential violations to occur.
“I think some people feel the police department needs to be at least setting an example or referring these issues when they spot them,” he said. “I think some people are hoping that they at least refer that and have them come out.”
When contacted by WUSA 9, the Metropolitan Police Department said it was unknown why the officers were inside Harry’s Restuarant.
“At this time we don’t have the full context for this video and I wouldn’t be able to comment on the exact circumstances,” officer Kristen Metzger wrote.
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